Budget 2021: $24b to help firms, workers adapt to global changes

Singapore will invest in 3 platforms to help companies innovate on a global scale

Around $24 billion will be spent over the next three years to help companies and workers adapt to changes in the global landscape brought on in part by the pandemic.

The funds will go towards building a more vibrant business sector and innovation ecosystem, helping businesses to transform and scale up their operations, and creating opportunities for workers.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday that Singapore must deepen its position as a global-Asia node to emerge stronger from the Covid-19 crisis.

That will involve working to restore the country's physical connectivity with the rest of the world, expand its digital connectivity and deepen its capacity to collaborate and innovate with global partners.

Singapore will invest in three platforms to help companies innovate and collaborate on a global scale, to help them remain competitive. The Corporate Venture Launchpad will be piloted this year to drive innovative ventures, providing co-funding for companies to build new ventures through pre-qualified venture studios.

"This is especially useful for larger businesses which want to rekindle a start-up mindset within their organisations," Mr Heng said.

He noted how BCG Digital Ventures, a venture studio, has collaborated with food and agricultural giant Olam to build a farmer services platform.

The platform, Jiva, will help farmers in developing countries increase crop yield, access credit and connect directly with buyers.


In addition, the Open Innovation Platform, a crowdsourcing initiative, will be enhanced to increase the speed and scale of digital innovation through new features such as a discovery engine.

This will enable the platform to make automated recommendations as it helps match problems faced by companies and public agencies with solution providers.

The platform also co-funds prototyping and deployment of solutions.

Enhancements will also be made to the Global Innovation Alliance, which helps to catalyse cross-border collaboration between Singapore and major global innovation hubs.

Strong connectivity will help businesses plug into global and regional supply chains and industry clusters, and deepen innovation partnerships, said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

Singapore has been stepping up its connectivity with South-east Asian nations, he said, noting that the region has significant growth potential.

Among efforts to strengthen its links in the region include the inaugural South-east Asia Open Innovation Challenge, which was launched last December. It drew participation from companies in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand.

"We will continue to work closely with our Asean members, to enhance digital connectivity and cyber security, and to get ready for the fourth Industrial Revolution, building on initiatives such as the Asean Smart Cities Network," Mr Heng said.

Singapore will also continue to enhance its infrastructure investments in the region, through projects such as Nongsa Digital Park in Batam, which facilitates collaboration between Singapore companies and tech talent in Indonesia, he said.

This article was first published in The Straits Times